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Samoan Olympian sacrifices work to follow Olympic dream

Samoa’s own discus Olympian has taken leave from work to train for Tokyo 2020, and he said becoming a full-time athlete is already paying off.

Alex Rose, who is based in the U.S.A., qualified for the 2020 Olympics last year, and recently took a leave of absence from his job as a technical sales engineer to focus on the July competition.

“I was still able to be a decent international competitor while I was working full time, so I’m hoping I can inch my way towards the top now that I’m training full time,” the 28-year-old said.

“I’ve been able to do the little things right, like stretching, rolling out, warming up, making sure I set enough time in my schedule for a long life and a long throwing session, I’ve been getting eight hours of sleep every night, my nutrition has been vastly improved.

“It’s not one thing in particular but I’m training how a professional athlete actually should be training.”

And the decision is already bearing fruit, with Rose posting a personal best indoor throw of 65.23 metres (which is a U.S.A. record) in December.

“This was four or five weeks after I began training full-time, so the effects are already having an impact.”

Rose said the trigger for him to leave work for the time being was the 2019 World Championships in September, where he finished 21st.

“I left the meet a bit upset that I didn’t perform as well as I could have,” Rose said. 

“Especially looking at the data from the competition, my discus actually had the fastest release speed out of anyone in the world

“I just didn’t throw it properly, so it’s not coming out the right way, and this is largely due to a lack of repetitions, since I work full time in a sales job where I drive 1,000 miles a week.”

So along with his coach and his wife, Rose decided to “give discus the time it deserves.”

“We had to calculate a lot of our finances and see first off if it was possible,” he said.

“Luckily my wife has been extremely supportive since day one, so she was all aboard

“She knew it would be temporary, and honestly she pushed me towards following my dreams, because she knew I’d regret later on if I didn’t do it.”

Rose said his workplace has been supportive too, and his job will be waiting for him after Tokyo:

“They knew that I was training on the side, and they knew that I qualified for the Olympics already, so they were more than happy to give me whatever time I needed to train.”

Given the choice, Rose said he’d always be training full time, but that’s not financially feasible in his sport.

“Basically you don’t really make any money throwing unless you’re in the top eight individuals in the world ,” he said.

Rose’s goal is to get there, where a mix of prize money, sponsorships and appearance bonuses is enough to do the sport as a job.

“I’ve already made significant improvements this winter training in Michigan, and I think that I can surprise some people once I open up in the spring,” he said.

For now, Rose is selling merchandise to help make his journey happen.

“Mostly to try to fund some of my season so I can get to Europe and compete in some world-class meets, and get the competition I need to be ready for Tokyo,” he said.

“Basically depending on how much money I can fundraise I’ll be travelling hopefully to Australia, and maybe Sweden, Germany and a few other nations.”

Rose said having that high level of competition is very important.

“It’s tough when you get to the World Championships or the Olympics and you haven’t thrown against anyone in a while,” he said

“It’s a different type of competition when you’re competing against someone better than you.

“[Otherwise] you never get that replication of intensity that you’re bound to have in Tokyo.”

Rose said the other part of selling the shirts and hoodies is that people just wanna be involved in the Olympics.

Orders have come through from his small hometown of West Branch, Michigan, as well as cousins in Australia and New Zealand.

“They don’t know anyone who’s competed in the Olympics, so it’s a pretty cool way to get the community involved as well,” Rose said.

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